Rather than discuss the exercise or what I hope to gain from participating, I thought I’d write about my dog, Roscoe.
He’s part Black Lab, part something or other. We adopted him when he was four (according to his previous owners). He’s 14 now. This is an old photo; now you can see gray in his muzzle and he is having more and more difficulty handling the stairs. JD actually picks him up to put him in our Suburban when we take him to the park.
A few weeks back we visited the park during Petapalooza, a fair-type event with booths of all kinds, a costume contest, petting zoo, camel rides and free treats just about everywhere. Roscoe did really well – he just laid down whenever he got tired. Even if it was in the walkway. This past weekend though he scared us a bit. His hindquarters have always been weaker than you’d expect, from the time we brought him home. They’re growing worse as he ages and it hurts me to watch him. He doesn’t cry like he hurts but I can see the uncertainty, the fear I guess when he’s faced with going down the porch steps to relieve himself. Returning up the steps isn’t much better. JD said he had improved a bit early this morning when he took him out one last time before coming to bed. Not a miraculous turnaround, but not the same reluctance.
A lot of pet owners would tell me we should put him down, that he can’t have a good quality of life that way. But they can’t see him. Just last week he brought his unstuffed weasel toy over to the sales rep from BathFitters wanting him to play. Roscoe loves going to the park. He’ll walk a bit, sniff a bunch and then lay down in the cool grass and just watch the world go by. He still eats all his food, though it takes him a bit longer; and he eagerly gobbles treats when we offer them. Sleep isn’t difficult and he still relieves himself regularly. His tail wags frequently and I think his quality of life, while not what it once was, isn’t too awful – for now.
However, his demeanor this past weekend brought his deteriorating condition to the forefront. JD and I were both in tears over dinner last night, knowing we might be nearing the time when Roscoe should be put to rest. He’s been a part of our lives for nearly all of our marriage. He is deeply ingrained in our hearts and lives. We’ve cuddled with him, rolled around on the floor with him, watched him play with our grandchildren, played tug of war with him. His going will leave a huge hole in our lives. HUGE. But I will not hesitate to say goodbye to him when the vet says it’s time. He deserves to live without pain, without uncertainty. Roscoe is a loving, loyal companion. It will be extremely difficult to lose him … and “extremely” doesn’t begin to describe how much it will hurt. Devastating comes to mind. I realize it isn’t a tragedy of earth-shaking proportions. Just a tragedy for the Does.
I’m trying to look at it this way – it isn’t losing him. It’s FREEING HIM. That’s the only way I’ll get through this.
That, and a double scotch on the rocks. Here’s to you, Roscoe.